Lilia Fabry, Ordinace 93, MPP Freelance INK, 2014.
Ordinance 93 is a novel set in a world where, with the blessing of the 55th President of the United States, the newly formed Office of Familial Equality promises to end all the nation’s problems including poverty and illness with the Family Protection Act. The only catch is all pregnancies must be registered and approved.
He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.
- Thomas Paine
Dissertation on First Principles of Government, 1791
Before the weekend was out, Justin Winters would be idol, villain, husband, parent, criminal, seducer, killer. For now he was simply another pair of footsteps in a line. The weight of what he was about to do had never been so heavy or so immediate. Delaying registry only led to his steeping in a crowd that multiplied in all directions. He and the other men ambled in a complex, yet indiscernible trail where bland conversations served as an interlude between each step. It took him hours just to enter the fluorescent chill of the oversized lobby. It wasn’t particularly hot outside, but the tension surrounding the registration process could be felt nonetheless. The other men in front and behind him did a combination of making small talk with him, turning to their mobiles, and complaining to whomever would listen about the wait as Justin’s eyes dragged beneath the knees around him. Out of habit, he buried his hands in the pockets of his tan slacks, but the act seemed to attract the attention of patrol men even more. In the last hour or so, he perfected the art of going from crossing his arms to tapping on his mobile and back again.
The speakers in the building mumbled mostly notices and wordless music but recently switched to a speech by another new official. “I cannot thank my colleagues enough for helping us reach this momentous point in our nation’s history. You have all sacrificed tremendously and will be rewarded appropriately…”
“Hey…” a voice interrupted.
Justin looked up to see a man twice his size and a fraction of his sobriety next to him.
“Can I get in here?” the man pointed in front of Justin.
“Absolutely not,” Justin answered.
“Come on, the kids are waiting for me at home,” the man’s voice slurred enough to convince Justin the kids were better off without him.
“I’ve been here for hours and so has everyone else.”The men around Justin nodded in agreement, although no one else risked looking the man in his veiny eyes.
“I tried the nice way,” the man said before he pushed his way in front of Justin, “deal with it.”
A few of the men tipped as a new notch was added to the chain. One of the patrol men turned in their direction and lingered for a second before deciding he wasn’t interested.
If Justin wanted to, he might have been able to come up with a better alternative. Instead, he placed his foot an inch to the side of the man’s, grabbed the back of his shirt, and pulled with both hands. It didn’t take much force at all to get the man to stagger and fall. The sound his body made as it hit the polished ground coupled with the combination of uninspired words directed towards Justin got the attention of all in the area, including the patrol men.
Before the drunk could grab at Justin, he sensed the attention around him and fled in a clumsy blur.
The patrol men gave chase, following him out the door. One of their gazes lingered on Justin, who could only give an innocent shrug.
None of them were prepared when the second set of screams began. The anguish in them was apparent from the first note. A few seconds more told Justin they were coming from a woman. Even though the line for the females was on the other side of the building, and far longer than the one for men, none of them missed a sound as she was brought in. Justin’s eyes surfaced as he moved in her direction. He couldn’t make out her words, but he wasn’t trying to. Only whether he recognized the voice mattered. His unhidden panic tricked him into thinking he couldn’t recognize the voice because he had never heard any of them scream like that.
A hand came and went on his shoulder. He separated a few others in line for a better view. He shouldn’t have bothered. The patrol men were bringing the woman closer to him in their journey to the red door. Justin froze in tandem with the other men who turned to see the commotion.
Four patrol men each had a limb of the woman, who looked at the end of her ability to physically struggle. Her blouse was intended to be large, just as it was intended to be torn from the bottom revealing an everted naval. If a fifth patrol man put a hand on it, another set of limbs would have joined in the protest.
“Step back!” the one in the lead screamed.
Justin leaned back against the crowd of men as his elbows kept any others from getting in front of him. She could only be seen for a second, her sweaty dark hair covering what could only be freckles. The sight of how young she was overcame his relief that he didn’t know her.
“Please,” the voice from the screams said, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Do you have to be so rough?” asked one of the men standing a few spots down from Justin.
“Step aside, sir,” the patrol man’s order could not be confused for a request.
Although they drew a crowd, the patrol men and their charge were able to make it to the red door in what was probably a matter of seconds.
“You don’t need to do this,” the woman screamed as she saw where she was going. “There’s nothing wrong! I feel fine!”
She screamed the last part a few times more before the door opened, swallowed, and shut, devouring her screams.
“It is my distinguished pleasure to address you all on this historic day. When the 55th President of the United States took office, it was with the goal of bringing what we hold most dear to us all…”
The crowd made it impossible for Justin to know what the other side of the door held, but men lingered as if they would see more. It also reminded him he was no longer in line with his head down.
Justin searched for the shoes of the men in front and behind him as the rest of the crowd retreated. Instead of wondering about the woman, Justin rotated thoughts of his parents and how much he was going to miss them. He thought of the time the line wasted along with the sheer mismanagement which kept it so long, and it brought him a second of comfort as he forced his fears down by habit alone. He curled his toes inside his boots wondering how close it was to the feeling of sand on bare feet.
“After a long struggle, the Family Protection Act takes effect today, assuring everyone for years to come freedom from needless illness, no poverty…”
Taken form the novel ‘Ordinance 93’, by Lilia Fabry, published by MPP Freelance INK, 2014.
Lilia Fabry (Houston, Texas, USA) is a novelist, essayist and screen writer. She writes about everything from reaction injection molding to low fat recipes. Find out more on lfabry.com or Twitter @LFabry93.