Jeremy Cameron ran a ‘creative writing’ workshop again at this year’s AGM. Our budding authors were set the task of writing the opening scene of a novel “2084” – a dystopian or utopian view of where the justice system would be in 65 years’ time! Interestingly everyone chose the dystopia over utopia! The “prize” was to have your entry published in Napo Magazine. But the first three were so close in points that we have chosen to publish the winner and the two close runners up. Here they are
1 – The perils of Big Billy Bennett, by Ruth Storey
Big Billy Bennett, as he was affectionately known to his friends, family and criminal associates, woke before the dawn at 6.55am. He lay as still as he could, aware that his “moving curfew” would not begin for another 5 minutes. He fought the urge to jump out of bed and dash for a piss, knowing the electronic tag on his leg would send an electric shock coursing through his body if he did. “Piece of shit” he muttered under his breath, nervous even that might trigger something.
The alarm sounded at 7.00am and he leapt out of bed. On arriving at his bathroom his eyes were scanned and his hand print checked on the door handle. Only when “the system” knew it was Billy, did the door open to allow his access. He stood, relieved, as he finally began to piss, the toilet instantly drug testing his urine to send the analysis straight to his Supervisor of Justice. “Piece of shit” he said, with more gusto this time.
Prison never used to be like this he thought. Why in Grayling Junior hell do they feel the need to tag prisoners. He quickly washed his hands and made his way back to his bed, conscious his “moving curfew” would be over in 5 minutes. “Piece of shit” he said, again, but reflected with a smile on his face that the Crunchie he stole three years previously was, on balance, worth it.
2 – Hope Rising, by Erica Millwood
As Jess looked out across the river, she realised that she was one of the lucky ones. The river was a nuclear shade of green and there were visible dismembered offenders floating through, or “dirty crims” as they were now referred to; but Jess knew that she was safe from the system run by the Overlord.
A lot of years were spent in battle before society was like this. A true determination of people like Jess’s Nan and Grandad, Katy and Ian, who were still in hiding in an underground camp for activists called “Sense City”, meant that some of the dirty crims were spared a cruel fate of dismemberment, flogging, hanging or burning at the stake. But it was still volatile for Jess as a woman who quietly tried to get justice and her only safety which made her a lucky one was her husband, who was ancestrally linked to the father of the first Overlord – Boris.
As Jess removed her pollution mask to take a quick bite of her beige vacuum wrapped food, not closely resembling her grandparents wonderful vibrant photographs of multi-coloured (and cultural) food feasts. She wondered why the people did not listen in the years before the battle. Her grandparents and many of their friends warned about the inflammatory language and ideological policies drifting further into extremism, but eventually people like Katy and Ian were ostracised, institutionalised or killed by the Overlord, if they could not get to Sense City.
As Tom approached, Jess hoped that he could get to the Haven and deliver the evidence which may just bring hope and life to the dirty crims, activists and the people who weren’t automatons of the Overlord.
3 – Take me to your leader, by Su McConnell
“Take me to your leader” demanded the alien visitor. The President of Planet Earth was bemused, having already identified himself and his rank. “Who do you mean?” he asked the Martian ruler who was tapping her tentacle impatiently.
“Well” explained Her Highness, “In 2002 Mars accepted a small colony of absolutely delightful earthlings who told us they were escaping from something they referred to as ‘Bloody Brexit Tee Arr Too F.M.L”.
“I had no idea” said the President. “And what did they bring to Mars?”
“Oh!” said Her Highness “They brought their philosophy which has become our motto for inter-planetary discourse with any lower life forms we encounter. It is ‘Advise, Assist, Befriend’. It’s doen jolly well in a number of galaxies.
Her Highness paused. “And their leader was She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed-Kath-Falcon, who is obviously a good sort, but not to be messed with”