Short fiction and serialised novellas of GJ Fairlamb

Archive for September 2014

Savage Writing: We Will Not Drown

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There was no set topic this week. After weeks of struggling to write, I finally had inspiration to write a scene from a sci-fi idea I’ve had rattling around in my head. Might write the whole thing eventually but it’s pretty low in my priorities right now…

This is set in the same world as that filthy thing I wrote.


The waters kept rising.

The warning had been issued two weeks before: sea water had been detected on the sensors two metres below Tier 3’s structural undergrowth. Those on the edge of the city could look down and see the murky grey shifting not far from their eyes. The cabinet were meeting today to make the decision: start evacuating the citizens en masse to Tier 4, or do it piecemeal, slowly, to ensure the richest and smartest and most valuable people escaped first – as they had done with Tiers 1 and 2. Either way, for safety purposes the power supply to Tier 3 had been immediately cut. If you relied on electricity to stay alive in the lowest level of the city, you were already dead.

So the crowds were out on the streets of the south quadrant in Tier 4, wielding banners and signs, chanting: ‘We will not drown! We will not drown! We will not drown!’ Photos of the people of Tiers 1 and 2 were passed in flyers: couples, families, young children; smiling alive and floating dead. The only remnants of the submerged, apart from what had been fished and scavenged by government forces after the first storm swept most of the lives away. Recycling is a virtue, after all.

The police were there to make sure the protest remained peaceful. Standing with his squadmates on West Cameron Street, Dan’s nerves were on edge. The air was taut with desperate rage. On the other side of the street, a gang had stopped their march to scream abuse at the nearest policemen. As women and men marched past Dan and his mates, they shot them disgusted, envious looks, for the clean clothes and strength of form that could only come from the sanitised water and fresh food of their mid-tier homes. For getting a payslip from those who were making yet another level on top of the city, yet another escape from the endless sea. For being paid to stop migrants at the border roads, paid to imprison those who tried to sneak their way up. Paid to send the penniless back down to drown.

‘We will not drown! We will not drown!’

‘I reckon this’ll blow in a few hours,’ Caleb murmured.

”Course it will,’ Jamie, on Dan’s other side, replied. ‘Look at them. Tier 3’s all but cut-off already, and here’ll be next. They’ve nothing to lose.’

Dan gripped his MP5 tight in his fingers. The streets were getting thicker and thicker with people, wooden signs bashing off of neighbouring heads, children hoisted onto shoulders for safety. Like a blocked artery, the flow of people churning slower, and slower. Passing glares turned into withering, minute-long contemplations as protesters strolled by. He held his neutral expression like a shield as curses flew towards them.

It’s like a gas-filled room, he thought. Only needs a tiny spark. Any one shriek, one impassioned ranter, one step wrong by any of the hundred uniformed men lining the pavements…here it comes, he thought, here it comes, any minute now…

No words or human voice when it came.


Every person on the street jolted. Half cowered down, half straightened up.

‘What the fuck was that?’ Jamie said.


The noise hit Dan like a punch to the ribs. Screams. The people began to scatter – only to find their way blocked by everyone else around them.

Jamie jumped onto the bonnet of the car and scanned above the heads. Fury lit his eyes as he spotted something to the north.

‘Motherfucker – gunman, Stirling Street. Can’t see any backup for Harkness – looks like they’re down –’

BANG. Even closer. A sudden surge of panic in the people, and the tide overflowed to the pavement. Dan was swamped by bodies, heat, sweat, shrieks, calls. He heard Caleb shouting orders, telling them not to push, to remain calm, meaningless words in the melange. As soon as he could get breath, Dan added his voice, habitual statements that no-one was listening to, not even him.

The swell passed. Dan breathed again and looked up the street, in the direction of the last shots. It was still thick with citizens – but for one second, a line of sight cleared, and between running bodies and discarded protest clutter he saw a young man with ginger hair place a gun into the breast of his jacket. He was heading towards an alleyway, and he moved without any sign of fear or shock.

‘Over there! Jamie – J – where the fuck is Jamie?’

No-one was standing on the bonnet of the car.

Caleb yelled something, inaudible over the chaos. Somehow three people had come between them since he spotted the gunman.

Dan knew he couldn’t wait. He forced himself through the crowd, hoping that Caleb was somewhere behind him, but knowing he couldn’t count on it. Eyes ahead, on the alley. Another bang, from elsewhere in the crowd, another gunshot. Bastards, Dan thought. What kind of sick minds would plan this kind of trouble?

One last push, and he dived into the alleyway.

The gunman stood leaning against a skip, as if he had been waiting for him.

Dan raised his gun.

‘Drop your weapon. I know it was you. Drop it!’

The man straightened. He looked Dan up and down as if he was inspecting a new car.

‘I said, drop your weapon!’

The gunman raised an eyebrow, and smirked.

Dan’s carbine fell to pieces in his hands, barrel and pins and coils dropping into his fingers, bullets tinkling to the floor.

Before he could feel surprise, something gripped his neck and lifted him from the ground. The world spun. With a crack his head smashed off the concrete, and the gunman was on top of him, fingers clamped around his throat with unyielding, inhuman strength. As Dan struggled to breathe, again the man inspected him as if he was a machine.

‘This one will do,’ he said.

The air behind his head shimmered, and three, no, four people stepped out of it, as if from invisible curtains. Old and young, male and female. All looked down at him with the same impassive expression.

‘Yes,’ an older woman said. ‘He will do well.’

The sounds of panic on the streets had faded. All that could be heard was one woman screaming:

‘We’ll not drown! We’ll not drown! We’ll not–’



Written by G.J.

17/09/2014 at 11:07 pm