Solaris Rising 2

Solaris Rising 2 by Ian Whates Read Free Book Online

Book: Solaris Rising 2 by Ian Whates Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ian Whates
Tags: Science-Fiction
in. You needed money, of course, but you also needed a clean criminal record, a thorough drug screen, a psychiatric evaluation. You needed to agree to rules of behavior. If you violated those rules, you and your family were out. But inside – ah, inside! Safety for you and your children! No ugly poor people pan-handling, no desperate homeless squatting in the flower beds, no need to think about those stuck outside. All across the United states HomeWall communities sprang up like mushrooms after rain.
    The community leaders weren’t stupid. They knew that twenty-feet-high walls, the most that the technology permitted, could be gotten over. The richest of them cleared a wide area around the outside of the circle and put it under continual electronic surveillance: visual, infrared, and metal detection.
    The plan that Wayne’s group – we never gave ourselves a name – came up with was ingenious in its simplicity. We joined a tent community just beyond a cleared area. Inside a ragged tent we built a medieval catapult of wood. We obtained a canister to be lobbed over the wall and break apart on contact, releasing tear gas into the gated community right at dinner time on a sweet summer night, when everyone was outside barbequing, playing tennis, drinking cocktails in designer lawn chairs whose cost would have fed the hungry people all around us for a week. Everything was in place.
    Except that the week before, in the tent camp, I had met Aisha.
    She was skinny and Muslim and starving and she reminded me of myself, who had never been any of those things. She was six years old, and she was dying. She coughed blood. I took her and her frantic mother to a hospital, but even though I paid for her care, she died. Too little, too late. I never even got to tell her to go to that happy place in her mind.
    The doctor, not knowing I was with her mother, said to me, “Just as well. One less sewer rat in the world. Keeps the rest of us safer in the long run.”
    I heard my father’s voice: “ The weak look pitiable, Catie, but they’re actually dangerous. They will bring down the strong if they can – from envy. ”
    Two days later Wayne sent me to buy the canister. I made an elaborate, blind-folded journey through Chicago, arranged by SunnyJay, and followed by even more elaborate blind transfers of electronic funds. On the black market, you can buy anything, and it was my money, from grandmother’s trust. I didn’t get a break-apart canister of tear gas. I got one of sarin.
     
     
    T HE H AMMET H OTEL , named for a famous seaside resort in Tunisia, is seedy but not overly dangerous. I wait there, paying cash for everything and producing SunnyJay’s fake ID as needed, for fully three weeks. Most of the time I watch TV, newscast after newscast about the breakthrough that will permit HomeWalls to “shield entire towns from terrorists and violent criminals.” No one ever said how many would be evicted from those towns, or where the evicted would then go. Hour after hour I watch these state-run broadcasts. It’s pretty much like again being in prison.
    Then my ‘lover’ arrives, with my package. The next day I catch a greyhound to Chicago.
     
     
    E VEN FIFTEEN YEARS ago, Wayne was a careful person. Inside our tent, beside the catapult, he meticulously examined the canister. “It doesn’t look like tear gas.”
    “It is. Unless you think they pulled a bait-and-switch on us?”
    “No, I don’t think that.” And then, “Catie?”
    “It’s tear gas.”
    And he nodded. We were sleeping together, we were passionately in love. The canister went into the catapult.
    But someone else in our group must have checked, too. Because there was an anonymous call – not to the cops, who would eventually have ferreted out the caller. The call was to my father, on condition that he not reveal it to the cops. He agreed. The cold-feet traitor to our unnamed movement told him that people, inhabitants of a HomeWall his company had created,

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