Read Chapter 4 “The Night”
Patrick feared to make independent decisions, just in case that got him in trouble with the Corporate Government. Unfortunately, after all those years of service, he still had to explain his actions. Maggie indeed was right; the Above wanted to control everyone, especially people like him.
For a very long time, he believed that his priority in life, once Maggie was gone, should be the loyalty to The Old World. However, over the past few years of being permanently stationed Down Below, his doubts about the system and what it was trying to accomplish, started growing. He worked hard at times, not giving into the negativity of his doubts. There was so much about the Corporate Democracy (an illusion of democracy kept in check and control by a tight group of few corporations) that he didn’t agree with. But he would never express his concerns; he always kept himself to himself.
When he was at his lowest in years, Maggie had to turn up and offer to give up information that potentially could help the Old World win the revolution. However, he wasn’t sure that she was going to give up anything of value; at the end of the day, she was one of the creators of Ecotopia.
He didn’t really want or care for the information. What he wanted the most was to hold her and tell her how much he missed her. But the odds of Patrick confronting his feelings were slim; he was too scared to expose his soul, the fear of punishment the Old World instilled in him was stronger than any other feeling. In his mind the odds of her not feeling the same were high and that was painful in itself. The last time they were together, she left in the middle of the night without even leaving a note behind.
He sat down in front of her and offered her a cigarette, which she refused. He put the cigarettes back to his industrial, worn down shirt’s front pocket.
His droid was hovering about, evidently searching for something in a database and now and then getting frustrated when it wasn’t able to find what it was after. Patrick didn’t make any of this since the droid was behaving this way from time to time. The droid was an old-fashioned one, unlike the new droids it was durable and easily adaptable to new technologies. The modern droids, the Above was feeding the people Down Below with, were cheaply made but sold expensively and weren’t as half as good as the old ones.
Unfortunately, a life Down Below without a droid was like a life without oxygen. People were always so busy in the Old World trying to “make it to the top” that the droids lived everyday life for them so they could solely focus on “making” to the Above.
Patrick’s piercing gaze didn’t make her uncomfortable in the slightest; she always loved when he looked at her.
– “I’ll help you.” – He finally said when the silence between them became too unbearable. If it was twenty years ago, they would have been already on the floor doing it. But it was now, not then.
– “You will? Did you …?”
– “I’m the commander in chief Down Below, and I don’t need anyone’s permission to co-operate with the enemy. As long as that enemy is willing to give up important information that will help us wins the war”.
Maggie took a deep breath before replying with carefully chosen words.
– “Yes, I’m willing to give up vital information.” – What she thought was hers and the cameras, which were everywhere recording and following every move of every person, had no access to it. Down Below freedom of movement didn’t exist.
– “We’ll go to my quarters. Then sort out your travelling papers just in case you need those. In the meantime, you must tell me what exactly you are after and what you can offer us in exchange for my help.”
– “Thank you.”
– “I’m not doing this for you; I hope that is clear. I’m doing this for the right side of the revolution. We deserve to win.” He stood up abruptly as if he was trying to get away from his own words.
Maggie grabbed his hand and looked him straight in the eyes. She wanted and needed him to know that she was telling the truth. But how could she communicate what’s inside her soul if the cameras were watching her every move. Since she couldn’t come up with anything clever to say, she decided to let his hand slide, and in that very moment, the lights started flickering and the ground shaking.
Patrick looked at his Droid; it was already down. He quickly looked at the front door, which flew open before starting to close. Judging the situation, Maggie quickly threw her shoe at the door, which allowed them enough time to make through it to the other side.
– “What is that?” – she asked Patrick.
– “Must be the bandits. Or perhaps the rebels.”
– “Bandits? Rebels?”
– “We must get out of the building!!!” – Maggie was right behind Patrick, who was holding on to the droid with one hand and holding Maggie’s hand with another. When the ground stopped shaking, Patrick suddenly stopped, turned to Maggie and grabbed her arm.
– “Do you have anything to do with this?”
– “Don’t be stupid, Patrick!!! Ecotopians never attack. Besides, no one knows I’m here.” – she pulled away from him and managed to put her shoe on quickly.
He muttered something, slightly abashed.
Both started walking towards the exit. On the way out they had to pass by the control room, where they found both staffers dead. Patrick decided to enter the room; once inside he seemed lost to Maggie. Maggie bypassed him and went to collect what was hers. Patrick didn’t stop her. She quickly grabbed her radio and her gear. On the way out she pulled Patrick along. He surely didn’t expect her to take him with her. In a way, he was grateful that she found some compassion for him. The moment they left the building, it collapsed right behind them.
The shooting, screaming and fire seemed to be coming at them from every single direction. Luckily, Maggie managed to unlock the protective shield the Ecotopians designed to cover themselves from the unfriendly fire.
– “Stay right next to me, and we will try to get to Greenwich Park. I think I still remember the way.” – she screamed to Patrick. She was terrified even though she tried to act all cool. She was worried that her kids were somewhere amongst all that fire and there was no way of knowing or finding them.
– “It’s up the hill.” – Patrick replied while taking the first left that was a shortcut to the park. After what seemed like forever they managed to get to what it used to be the Greenwich Park; before the revolution made it look wild, disorderly, and dark; the whole place had a terrifying feel to it.
The Above made all green areas illegal, and the general public wasn’t allowed to walk or use the parks. The Corporate Government always used clever and manipulative propaganda to make citizens afraid and always obedient. The public believed that parks were places for the homeless and the gangs of rebels. However, to Patrick parks always felt empty, abandoned and a sad reminder of the past long gone.
When they finally managed to reach the top of the hill, with the remains of the old Royal Observatory, Patrick stopped to look towards the river. The whole north of the river was on fire. Maggie looked at him and as much as she wanted to give him time they had none.
– “Patrick! Patrick! Patrick! This way.”
He followed her without even knowing why. Soon enough Maggie found her ship moored in what it used to be the flower garden before the revolution destroyed everything that was beautiful about this place. Patrick remembered this place well. They had a picnic here once, and he even planned to propose in that very spot. But now the darkness covered what once used to be a beautiful little oasis in the middle of a lively prosperous city.
– “Here we are” – said Maggie making her way towards her ship. Every single piece of the Ecotopian equipment could operate only after a voice or a fingerprint activation. The ships and cars were no different.
– “Let’s get going before…” – started Maggie, while getting inside what looked like a small capsule.
– “Before the Above descends on the Down Below.”
Maggie stopped and looked at Patrick, maybe deep down he still remembered who he truly was.