I am dreaming. A future city, rain, ruined buildings, people blur past with haunted faces – everywhere has the stench of fear, decay.
It’s the future, I know that, but there are no flying cars or gleaming chrome – it stinks and it’s grey and it’s horrible. Orwell was right, it’s the feeling of a boot being smashed into a face forever.
But out of the darkness, the horrible feeling of fear and hopelessness, there is light and a shiver of relief: they’re with me here, my boys – Jack and Ben – and Amanda. We are hiding in a house, anxiously looking out for The Quell.
The Quell are the police/army who look for families with more than one child. I instantly know if I see them it will mean the end of all things. It terrifies me beyond imagining. Somewhere I hear screams, I see water roll down the window, it all seems so real I can barely take it.
Dream logic tells me this has always been life in this place (no name for the city – just an endless sprawl, unending, desolate). The rulers have decided that no-one is allowed more than one child. An oral contraceptive has been added to the water to keep both men and women sterile. It takes a licence and a lot of influence to be able to have one child. Two is impossible.
Yet here we are, cowering in the darkness – fear turning my insides to breezeblock.
As soon as I realise our peril the dream starts to shift – I see Amanda being taken away by friends (an underground?) – she is pregnant I think, but I can’t be sure. I will remain in the city with the boys.
I think we might be trying to keep the police from Amanda’s trail (she has to survive, she is immune to the contraceptive) but then I realise the true reason.
My boys were born without a licence – without the pill needed to counteract the infertility chemical in the water – and I believe they are also immune. If one of them can make it to the ocean then there blood or saliva will instantly render the auto-virus obsolete.
Dream shift – we’re in a cabin-type house. It’s dark. We’re cold and frightened, but we’re determined – we need to make it. There’s a sound outside, a shout, the scrape of metal. My stomach clenches.
The Quell are here.
Escape is impossible. We know that. We accept that. We’re dead either way. Now or by degrees in a prison cell. We will not go out like that.
I have two handguns, Ben has a shotgun and Jack an assault rifle. It’s time to go.
Jack and Ben both look at me – my beautiful sons. We all share a moment, but no words. None needed. Amanda, we love you. Goodbye.
We come out of the shack blasting.
Ben is the first to go down. He gets off three rounds of his shotgun (all hit their target) and then I sense him fall behind me, hit by a volley of bullets. He is dead before he hits the ground.
Jack and I are running, me slightly behind. I feel a burning pain in my shoulder and then something hits my stomach like a bowling ball.
I stop, winded it seems, and feel something wet slop on to my shoes. I don’t need to see what it is. I start firing at every shape I see – red mist explodes from masks and the air is full of bullets and pain and screaming. I am full of rage and love.
But Jack is still running. I die watching him, but somehow I am now floating above – watching Jack as he struggles – bullet-ridden, torn – towards the water’s edge.
He is within a few feet, but he cannot stand – soldiers all around empty their clips as he staggers to his knees, then to his feet and turns to them and smiles.
I watch as my son is vapourised in a maelstrom of fire … and his blood drifts like a fine rain into the water behind, changing the world forever.
I wake up.