Quig Shelby

First published in 2018 by

AG Books


Digital edition converted and distributed by

Andrews UK Limited


© Copyright 2018 Quig Shelby

The right of Quig Shelby to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. Any person who does so may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.

All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Chapter One

The uninvited hurricane prepared to gate-crash the southwest coast of Britain. Bruised purple clouds fought their way to the front of the storm and thumped the sky with thunderous blows. A lightning fork slapped the trident from Neptune’s hand and he splashed the waters around him in blind fury causing huge waves that raced to the shoreline. The old man at the last house along the cliff edge quickly took delivery of two bags of organic fertilizer before the waggon driver cracked the whip and fled with his galloping team of horses gnashing their teeth.

The sky darkened with menace as the old man dropped the bags of fertilizer into a pit behind a low stone wall on his garden. They were in cloth sacks with numbers 37729 and 37730 stamped on the front, and he was fit and able enough to throw them around like cabbages. His vegetable patch rolled downwards to the very edge of the cliff as far as he dare go and a yard short of the shortest way to the beach. The overworked soil hungered for nutrients and the government issued fertilizers were essential for the smallholders. The interior of Great Britain was a deserted dustbowl with rainclouds delivering their payload long before the wind carried them further inland.

The nation was no longer one of shopkeepers but farmers obsessed with land productivity and animal yield, such as the milk from the small herds of cattle roaming the fields. And no one got too fat off the land, it was a system of make-do and barter with obesity a thing of the past. The survivors had kept their heads above water as the melting Antarctic ice sheets redrew the coastlines and the planet tore itself apart.

There were no landscaped gardens in private hands and most available land was used to produce food, including the trees that stopped erosion and the hedgerows full of pest-killing wildlife. Pesticides nor herbicides existed and all produce was organic, all flowers were wild. Jungles and rainforests flourished and the animals within provided a much needed resource for the villages. Britain was an ark that had welcomed the exotic and endangered species sent from continents going down in flames. Though some wondered if the venomous frogs, serpents, and spiders were sent for revenge.

The old man’s wife ran outdoors to grab the washing off the line before the raindrops got any bigger and the bedsheets were swept away by the howling wind. She’d just taken another shot of illegal anti-inflammatories in her knees and wanted to leap like a new born lamb for the neighbour’s prying eyes.

As the elderly couple ran indoors and battened down the hatches, waves taller than a lighthouse crashed into the cliff and punched the obstinate chalk face unwilling to give way. White plumes of sea foam escaped onto land, swept along by the gale threatening to tear up the hedgerows. Above the sound of torrential rain, they heard a row of roof tiles hit the ground like machine gun fire and they shivered in the basement.

On the radio between warnings to stay indoors until the all-clear were further updates from the Ministry of Points on the meaning of real life, otherwise known as the ‘hundred points’.

‘A degree in agriculture now costs only ten points,’ said Edward, the government mouthpiece.

‘That’s down three points,’ noted Jeremiah Dana, the old man.

A good swap for a top job and as every citizen could tell you, it meant there was another shortage of professional farmers. But few had the necessary acumen to succeed, or bravery for mistakes in farming were treated very seriously indeed.

Every new born citizen was given a hundred points, some were taken away automatically such as the fifteen deducted for a state education up to secondary level, but mainly you got to choose on what they were spent such as higher education, housing, or rudimentary healthcare. But most pulled their own teeth when necessary, though refined sugar was no longer available to rot them.

If you broke the law, points were taken from you. Those who no longer had points to lose but did break the law were instantly recruited to the community work programmes, more commonly known as the chain-gangs, where they continued their existence into retirement, dropping by the wayside and buried on the spot. Only murderers and the worst subversives were publicly executed by guillotine.

Keeping your points was pivotal to maintaining citizenship and the canny knew when to use them and more importantly how to avoid wasting them. And reaching retirement age with a few points remaining was the dream of the middle-aged, to laze away one’s golden years in Scotland, cooler but still bathed in sunshine.

Eliza Dana, the old man’s wife, carried on with her knitting in the rocking chair beneath a vegetable oil lamp. Like her husband Jeremiah, she was in her late fifties with dyed brown hair. The outdoor life kept her fit, apart from the painful arthritis in her knees. The wool was shorn from the family sheep, the ones that provided the tastiest lamb in the village, and animal husbandry had replaced the outdated fashion of

Вы читаете 100 Points
Добавить отзыв


Вы можете отметить интересные вам фрагменты текста, которые будут доступны по уникальной ссылке в адресной строке браузера.

Отметить Добавить цитату