The Edge of Tomorrow 2 - 1992
"Our Lord, Gedd" - Paul Davison
(page 9/13)

"Our Lord, Gedd"

I took a deep breath and pulled the trigger, immediately ducking below the window-ledge for cover. I heard the screams of terror and anguish and I knew I had hit him. A stampede and blockade would surely follow - I had to get out of the building.

It was after I had dissembled my weapon and was sprinting down the stairs three at a time that it suddenly registered that outside people were cheering. Not because he was dead, surely?

Composing myself I sauntered casually out of the front door and into the street; into the throbbing crowds that milled around, hoping for a glimpse of our leader, mentor, saviour and many other things besides. They were cheering, I discovered when I glanced quickly behind me, because he was back on his feet. I'd missed.

I didn't have time to further consider the implications of this as about ten ministry guards brushed roughly past me on their way, no doubt, to hunt for the anarchic traitor who had tried to murder our much loved Lord. So close, undetected (and this was miraculous enough in itself) and 1'd missed. When I saw her it was almost too late. On the other side of the street was Helen, pointing squarely at me while flanked by four guards. Helen who had risked her life smuggling me into the state in the first place; Helen whom I had trusted (not to mention loved); Helen in whose hands my life lay.

When the guards started to move, I started to panic. When they started to run, I started to run faster, but in my panic I got the direction slightly wrong and ran straight back into the building, up the stairs and through the trapdoor in the first floor landing down among the heating and service pipes. A rat strolled past my left nostril and I shivered.

It was a sunny, warm day outside the cubbyhole. I was ensconced in the health building (ironically enough - if they found me) in the city of Utann in the glorious state of Utannah. There would be no nurses or staff in the building today for President Gedd was performing a state walkabout outside in the streets of his capital city. Every resident was required to attend, cheerily, or face gruesome consequences, almost certainly culminating in death. Underground movements estimated that since Gedd came to power with a bloody coup some ten months ago, the population of the state had dropped by some sixteen percent.

Everyone has to report to their curfew officer every night, now. Pregnancies were licensed; if you didn't have a licence you wouldn't have a baby, a husband or a life, and everyone between the ages of 16 and 50 was required to register for sterilisation, National Service and state enumeration - the process by which the state determined your useful lifetime. After that age, you were history, so to speak.

My brother was 24 on Gedd's ascension. He was also rather lame from a gunshot wound sustained during the aftermath of the coup. He was, therefore, 24 when he was "released", the state term for being killed. He just wasn't useful enough.

I think I had been down that hellhole for about twenty minutes when I was found. All I remember is a brief flash of light, a shout, and a blinding headache for three hours after I came round.

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I thought it would be a summary execution but it seemed that Gedd wanted to speak to me first. Perhaps I was going to have my brains picked and then blown out.

But I see now that that would have a been a fitting fate for a traitor. In those ten months I had wilfully impeded the progress of civilisation and population control that was so necessary in such a backward state as Utannah.

Gedd was such a breath of life into a dying state that I must have been stupid not to see the advantages his rule brought.

And now, as I sit at the gates of Utannah daily (for I can no longer stand or move around) I do the best I can to reassure the residents of this city of the generous rule of our Lord Gedd. And although I am in constant pain from my shackles and the creatures that crawl over my head, where once my skull was whole, I do not complain. For I know that Gedd loves me.

P. Davison 1992