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   Chapter 44 No.44

High Steaks By Christina Engela Characters: 5739

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02


Some – particularly the elderly and the young had begun to show signs of wear. A growing unrest had taken hold in the inmates. Some began shouting for water, for food. Others went up to the red line near towers at the gate, risking their lives to plead for food, water, and medical care for those who had collapsed from dehydration and fatigue.

One of the guards in Francis' tower threw a part-eaten chicken bone down, and laughed gutturally as three inmates scrambled to scoop it off the ground. Laughing, Francis picked up a water bottle, and leaned over the side of the tower to throw it over. He let it fall onto the soft grass at the base of the tower.

"Go on, get it!" He shouted at the inmates gathered along the red line. A boy, perhaps 18, dashed forward to grab it – crossing the red line. Two sonic bursts sounded from an adjacent tower. The boy jerked as a hole the size of a dinner plate was blasted through his abdomen, and tumbled to the ground, still. Droplets of red ooze lay on the grass around his body like dew, as peals of laughter echoed from the towers around the camp. Discouraged and disheartened, the inmates knew what their fate was going to be.

"Why?" A man shouted from the red line near the fallen boy's body. "Why are you doing this to us?"

He seemed to Danielle Grauffis to be in his late thirties, holding his arms wide, evoking an appeal.

"What do you want from us?" He cried.

A funny sort of look crossed Michael Francis' face, and he went over to the ladder at the back of the tower, descending it on the outside of the fence. A few moments later, the gate opened, and Francis entered, escorted by ten armed guards.

"Good afternoon!" He greeted, smiling as he walke

y started nodding their approval without a shred of shame to spoil their power-high. "And that's how we're going to solve this problem! One shot at a time if that's what it takes!"

Danielle saw the looks on the faces of the other inmates around her, mortified. There were a lot of young people her age there. They looked frozen, angry, powerless, afraid.

* * *

The Governor's Chancellor's Palace in Atro City had begun to undergo something of a makeover. All the boring old paintings and formal state photographs of former governors (most recently, ex-Governor Landry) and patriotic imagery of Earth had been removed and dumped in the cellar. Big garish red vertical banners with the Deannan Service League and D.R.A.'s propeller logo had been hung from virtually every wall. A youthful, uniformed male with sergeant's stripes on his uniform now occupied the secretary's desk at reception. Two armed D.R.A. troopers stood rigidly on guard at the base of the stairs on Lupini Street, with another two posted outside the main entrance on the porch. Another two stood at the entrances to the opposite corridors leading off from the lobby.

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